Every day is a new opportunity to transform your life and your pet’s life with positive habits, so why not start now?
There are many simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to boost your wellness and that of your best furiend — and the best part is, you can do it together! For example, did you know that you are more likely to continue a fitness or workout program if you exercise with your pet?
Let’s make 2022 the year that you get active with your pet, eat well and improve your overall health — together.
With a Ball
A classic game of fetch is a great way for your dog to burn some calories — but if your pup is working that hard, what makes you think you can get away with just standing there??
One healthy habit you can build this year is to do a few quick lunges or squats whenever your dog is retrieving their tennis ball or disc (and let’s face it, sometimes just wrestling a toy away from your pooch is a workout all on its own!).
Other games you can play with your dog — particularly if Fido has felt inspired by the Air Bud franchise — include kicking a soccer ball around, tossing a football or bouncing a basketball. You’d be surprised at how quickly some pups can get the hang of it and become MVPs!
If you’re intimidated by more strenuous activities, remember that you can’t go wrong with a simple walk around the block. Don’t underestimate the power of adding in another walk during the week, or extending your daily stroll with your pup from thirty minutes to forty-five. Every change that gets you moving more is bound to be good for you, and Fido, too.
If the daily walk is starting to feel more like a chore than a relaxing experience with your best furiend, change things up a little bit. Take a different route one day or walk through a dog-friendly park or nature trail instead. If you’re feeling up for it, you can alternate between walking and jogging or even take up running with your dog and work towards a goal — like a doggy 5K or 10K.
Whether you’re walking, hiking or going for gold, make sure you stay safe outdoors with your dog and stay aware of your pup’s energy level and physical abilities. Some dogs will enthusiastically do their best to keep up at first, only to overwork themselves and force you to carry them home!
If your own two feet aren’t fast enough for a particularly energetic pup, step it up with a pair of wheels. Rollerblading, cycling or even skateboarding with your pet can be another fun way to get active together and learn a new skill!
Just remember to always wear your helmet and other protective gear, and to make sure your furry pal nails their basic obedience skills before you get up to speed. The last thing you want is for your distracted dog to bolt after a squirrel and yank you straight over the handlebars!
On the Water
Swimming is one of the healthiest active habits you can build, for both you and your pup! The water’s buoyancy is easy on the joints, so it’s perfect for those with limited mobility. Swimming also promotes good circulation and the water resistance builds strong muscles.
Look for dog-friendly beaches or lakes in your area to give Fido the opportunity for a good doggy-paddle. Or, if you’d rather be on the water instead of in it, your dog can also learn to enjoy fun water activities like canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
However you enjoy the water, make sure your dog wears a well-fitted life preserver at all times (even if they’re a strong swimmer).
In the Snow
Cold weather doesn’t have to mean being trapped inside. From the classics like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to canine-specific snow sports like skijoring and dog sledding, there are plenty of winter activities you can do with your dog to start building healthy habits right away!
While you’re enjoying the winter wonderland, make sure you’re keeping your pup warm, watching out for cold-weather dangers like deadly antifreeze and following our other winter safety tips.
In the Ring: Canine Sports
Participating in a canine competition gives you and your dog the chance to have fun together, work towards a goal and establish a healthy routine!
From disc throw and agility to dock diving, flyball, lure coursing and even dog dancing, there’s any number of fun canine sports the two of you can do together. These are excellent exercises for dogs, and many of them get you moving just as much as your pup!
If you’re not sure where to start, the AKC has a quiz to help point you and Rover in the right direction. Check out classes or lessons in your area, or simply DIY the supplies and start the basics on your own!
Don’t Forget Felix! Exercise With Your Cat
When it comes to building healthier habits for you and your cat, you may think your options are limited. Obviously, you can’t walk a cat — or can you?!
Harness training for your cat absolutely exists, and it’s a fantastic way to let your kitty explore the great outdoors safely. Of course, your cat’s casual stroll likely won’t be at the same brisk pace as if you were walking a dog — but at least it’ll get you out of the house!
Another great way to exercise your kitty is to invest in some cat toys (especially wands and other dangly items) and commit to at least one really active play session with your cat every day. A good fifteen or thirty minutes of active ‘hunting’ every day will help a plump kitty shed a few pounds and will improve your bond with your cat — plus, it’s a fun and easy habit to build together.
If you’re still looking for other feline-centric wellness options, there’s always cat yoga! And hey, if your cat is cooperative enough, you could even do some bicep purrls ….
Eat Healthier Together
Cut back on unhealthy foods in 2022. That means fewer potato chips for you — and less overly-processed, grain-heavy kibble for your pet! If you truly want to transform your best furiend’s overall health and wellbeing, now is the time to transition to a raw diet.
Healthy pet food packed with meat, vital organs and real bone contains all the natural nutrition your pets crave and is a cleaner, safer option for your pet than heavily processed commercial pet foods. Pet parents who transition to a raw, grain free diet often see their kitties and pups lose weight, live longer, have cleaner teeth, a shinier coat and experience many more incredible health benefits!
Even if this is the only change you make to your pet’s routine this year, it’ll give you the peace of mind knowing that your kitty or pup is eating and feeling much better.
Supplement for a Healthy Boost
Even if you’re not in a position to transition your pet to a 100% raw diet, that doesn’t mean you have to resign your buddy to unhealthy ‘junk food’ kibble forever!
One easy way to make sure your pet is eating healthier this year is to simply supplement your dog or cat’s normal food with tripe or toppers, so that your best pal can still get the amazing health benefits of real meat, vital organs and bone.
Healthy Treats & Snacks
Of course, eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a delicious snack now and then — and the same goes for your pets, too.
Most commercial pet treats are heavily processed, high in calories and low on nutritional value. One easy way to make sure your pup or kitty eats healthier this year is to replace their unhealthy treats with single ingredient raw treats. From crunchy freeze-dried minnows to tasty beef nibs, Vital Essentials offers a variety of options for your pet to enjoy — all of which you can feed guilt-free!
More great options can be found at our in-person VE RAW BAR, a unique and tantalizing collection of freeze-dried raw snacks like pig ears, bully sticks and salmon skins. The natural nutrients present in these snacks provide excellent health benefits for both dogs and kitties.
With so many options for building healthier habits and a healthier diet, you’re sure to find the solution that works for you and your pet to improve your overall wellness together this New Year.
Ready to make a change, but don’t know where to start? Organizations like the AKC or LeashYourFitness can help you get started on exercising with your dog, while you can try out our healthy Vital Essentials treats, food and toppers at your local independent pet retailer!